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07 October 2017, 05:05 | Melissa Porter
Madagascar Plague Kills 20 Amid Unusually Rapid Rise In Cases
Plague has also been reported in the port city of Toamasina in eastern Madagascar and other cities.
Five people succumbed to the plague in Antananarivo, including a Seychelles basketball coach visiting the country who died from the disease last Wednesday.
Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced it is has delivered almost 1.2 million doses of antibiotics and released US$1.5 million dollars in emergency funds to fight plague in Madagascar.
The campus in Antananarivo is expected to reopen next week, though public gatherings in the city will remain banned.
The Government has told children to stay home from school in the coming days as it undertakes a campaign to disinfect classrooms in the capital.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the signs and symptoms of the plague can include sudden fever, chills, painful and inflamed lymph nodes, or shortness of breath with coughing where the saliva or mucus is tainted with blood.
Most of the 231 infections and 33 deaths that the Ministry of Health has reported since August are associated with pneumonic plague - a more risky form of the disease that affects the lungs and is transmitted through coughing at close range.
Citizens have bought surgical masks and medical supplies in large quantities, raising fears of a possible shortage of medicine in the foreseeable future.
WHO, which is sending more staff and supplies, including antibiotics, to Madagascar, said about 400 case of plague, mostly bubonic, are reported every year in the country.
"Bubonic plague is spread by infected rats via flea bite, pneumonic by person-to-person transmission".
The U.N. health agency said it feared that the outbreak could worsen because the season for plague, which is endemic in Madagascar, had only just begun, and runs until April.
Pneumonic plague can kill quickly, within 18 to 24 hours of infection if left untreated, but it can be cured by early use of antibiotics.
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